Domitian AE, RPC 2099A coin from Pella, city of the Decapolis

February 10, 2019


Y COIN THIS WEEK comes from Pella, a city of the Decapolis, ten Greek cities on the Judaean border with Syria and mentioned in the Bible.  Here is RPC 2099--



          The coin was minted very early in the reign of Domtian, 81/82 A.D.  Looking at the head on the obverse, it is clear that the engravers didn't know what the emperor looked like.  The portrait seems Nero-esque, the emperor six emperors ago.  Apparently the model for Domitian's face hadn't arrived yet.  Note the hair falling almost in bangs over the subject's forehead.  Very odd for Domitian.

          RPC 2099 is the rarest of the rare, [0].  The only other example is in the Studium Biblicam Fransiscanum Library in Jerusalem, the RPC plate coin.  The reverse description reads, "turreted Tyche standing l., holding uncertain object in r. hand," because that part of the reverse on the Jerusalem coin is almost totally worn away.

          In the present example we can see she's holding a staff of some sort, possibly a spear or a torch or a scepter.  To me it looks like a torch, like a tiki torch; in her left hand she holds the cornucopia.  Here Tyche appears to be standing on a base, which suggests that this is a representation of an actual statue of the Goddess of Fortune in Pella.

          The city of Pella is important to the history of the early Christian Church.  It was here that the Jerusalem Church fled before the Jewish War and destruction of the Temple in 70.  This was the church of James, brother of Jesus.


Next week, a coin from Rome.

© Jim Hazelton, 2019
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